There are a slew of good people who helped me write this piece. When John Boe, my UWP journalism professor, announced that we could write on literally anything we wanted, I felt like a housecat looking out the front door. Unsure of where to step, and without any of my own ideas, I asked my good friend Liz what I should write about. It was she who turned me on to the Davis “dumpster diving” culture and its protest of the food industry through gleaning. These gleaners, whose names I changed to protect their privacy, welcomed me into their homes and showed me the utmost generosity. And now, from my soapbox, I can see that religious capitalism has yielded an American culture of excess, a culture that transcends our own borders, and wasted food remains a physical testament to our negligence. Though gleaning may not solve the planet’s food problems, it does illuminate these problems, which is a start. And who can turn down free cheese?
—Ronny Smith Instructor’s Comment: I have to admit that when Ronald Smith pitched his idea of doing a dumpster diving story, I was not wildly enthusiastic. I had had a student do a similar story a year or so previously, and her result was more a personal essay (“Look, I went dumpster diving!”) than journalism. But Ronald took a different approach and ended up with a fabulous final product. Sure the highlight of the piece is in his first person experience of dumpster diving, which he renders skillfully: I feel as if I am in the dumpster with him, and I cringe when he actually eats some of the found food. But Ronald puts the diamond of his first person story in a rich setting: information from a UCD American Studies class, interviews (a grad student in Community Development, several dumpster divers, the Grocery Manager of Davis Foods Co-op), information from newspapers and other sources, reports on Sacramento’s efforts to regulate dumpster diving (including an account of a Sacramento Council Chamber Meeting), and a summary of author Raj...
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